Monday, September 29, 2008

On Journals and Journaling, Part 1

"Journal is from Old French jurnal, or 'belonging to a day.' At first, it was a sort of reference book that contained the times of daily prayers. In the 1600s, it acquired the meaning of 'diary' and later became associated with newspaper titles and lent its root to journalism." From Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac

This quotation came through to my inbox the other day, and it struck me as being chock-full of interesting tidbits:
  1. That the first journal recorded the times of daily prayers. As a Protestant Christian who, (like Kathleen Norris, whose book The Cloister Walk encouraged me in the practice), loves visiting monasteries, my "monastery geek" side comes out full force for this one. Particularly since my "diary-style" journal entries so often turn into prayers by their ends--I find talking to God so much more interesting than talking to myself.

  2. That the first journals were also reference works. I still find my journals to retain a touch of this character--I try to capture thoughts, observations, emotions, etc., partly so I can refer to them immediately and figure out what's going on in me, but also for reference later on to remember snippets of what my life was like at an earlier time. And my journals specifically used to capture writing inspirations are even more reference works.

  3. The reporting, or journalism, aspect is interesting, particularly as I don't often think of other people reading my journal. However, last week I had to do a finding aid for some of my papers for my archival theory and practice class, acting as though future researchers would be using my papers for research, and this gave me new insights into this journaling aspect (and made me feel quite vulnerable). But more on that in a day or so (hm, there really is an ancient connection between journals and what many blogs have turned into).

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